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Why Punishment is Needed
Why Spanking is Needed
But the "Experts" Say...
When to Spank
At What Age to Spank
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When to Spank

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Spanking is strong medicine, so it should be used with caution. Doctors do not always use the strongest medicine they have available: strong medicine is saved for the difficult cases. Doctors fear that if they always use the strongest medicine in their bag, the patient will become immune to it, and so when the patient is really sick and most in need of the strong medicine, the medicine will no longer be effective. Therefore, for many maladies, a gradual approach is used. In the same vein, there are many misbehaviors that call for the gradual approach. If spanking is used for every misbehavior, children will soon become immune to it, and it will lose its potency. Therefore, in most cases, start out with less potent punishments like time-out and grounding, saving the strong medicine, spanking, until it is clear that the weaker medicine isn't working. For me, I think that things like tantrums, sassiness, back talk, or missing curfew are misbehaviors that call for a gradual approach of progressive punishment. If your child back talks, he should be strongly scolded. The next time, he gets a scolding and a time-out (standing with his nose in the corner, 1 minute for each year of his age) along with the warning: "The next time you back talk, you'll get a spanking." If he talks back a third time, then you must spank as promised. The important point is to save spanking until it is clear that alternative punishments aren't working.

However, spanking should not be used only as a last resort. There are some occasions when it should be the first resort. To continue the medical analogy, there are some diseases that must be stopped at once if they are to be cured. In such cases, the doctor uses the strongest medicine she has available right at the start. By the same token, there are certain misbehaviors that call for strong medicine from the get-go in order to keep them from continuing or spreading. Spanking should be used as a first resort when your child does something dangerous to himself or to someone else. Spanking should also be used when your child lies or is deliberately disobedient.

What is considered dangerous behavior will vary with your child's age. A a toddler or preschooler might run into the street, play with matches, or stick objects into electrical outlets while an adolescent, preteen, or young teen might ride her bike onto a busy highway, try smoking, or post inappropriate material on the Internet. In cases such as these, you can not afford to just ignore the behavior in hopes that it will go away. Strong medicine--spanking--must be used to protect those involved.

Lying and deliberate disobedience also fall into this group of misbehaviors that call for strong medicine--spanking as a first resort. Why these two? They tear at what binds parents and children together: trust and respect. Therefore, parents can not afford to take a gradual approach when the child lies or deliberately disobeys. Lying should always earn a spanking. Otherwise, your child will develop the habit of lying when it is convenient, and you will be in constant doubt about whether to believe what your child is telling you. This will destroy your relationship with your child, for doubt eats away the foundation of all relationships.

If you tell your child not to do something, and he does it anyway, then that must be an automatic spanking. If you tell your child to do something and he does not do it, that must also be an automatic spanking. Otherwise, your child will learn that he does not have to respect your authority. Therefore, he becomes his own boss. But a child is not mature enough to be his own boss. A child needs rules and guidance, and he needs to know there are consequences for disobeying those rules. Spanking for disobedience assures your child will obey your rules.

The Bottom Line: Spanking should be used as a first resort when your child does something dangerous, lies or disobeys you. Spanking should also be used when other punishments have failed to stop misbehavior.

This material is copyrighted by Paul J Preston, 2004-2018. All rights reserved.